Monday, July 18, 2005

Idiot-Savant Watch

At the moment I'm having trouble deciding whether Peter Beattie is a telegenic idiot-savant or just a telegenic idiot. He was interviewed on The Insiders yesterday. He had a few things to say on the subject of the proposal of a National ID Card. From the government's point of view, it's now appropriate to put this idea back on the political agenda because:

  • Knowing that everyone in the country is actually who they say they are will help keep us safe from terrorism;

  • It's not Bob Hawke's idea any more;

  • It's not about tax collection. Yet.

Beattie is in favour of the idea too, for a number of reasons:

  • It's the way the world is going;

  • It will help prevent a repetition of the Cornelia Rau farce;

  • It will help prevent terrorism;

  • It will help prevent identity theft;

  • As far as he's concerned it's about commonsense, national security (I'm not sure whether he omitted the "and" or he's asserting some claim that, the way thins are these days, commonsense is national security and vice versa. It's somewhere between even money and six to four on that it's the latter.

In fact, if Beattie gets his druthers, it won't be just a National ID card:

One of the things we discussed Barrie at a recent COAG meeting was a national smart card. Now most States are looking at it, we are. By smart card I mean, I'd love to have a card which means that I can use it to access EFTPOS, ATM. I can use it for credit, to pay for a train, bus, ferry the whole lot. Now if you can have one card to do that - that removes a lot of the cumbersome problems people have managing their finances.

And Beattie is concerned about the problem of identity theft? As I understand it, identity theft works something like this at present:

You nick someone's bank statement, gas bill and a few other such documents from their mail - enough to establish 100 points of identification essentially. Then you bugger off to a bank and apply for a credit card in their name, run up a shit load of debt and stake out a new mail box.

Here's how identity theft would work with a National Smart card:

You pick the pocket or snatch the purse of a passing stranger in the street. You toss everything but their National Smart Card, which you take to some geek who's prepared to hack it for something like 10% of the take.

Maybe I should drop the "savant" part after all.

Postscript: despite my best efforts to derail it, there's a serious discussion of the National ID card going on at Larvatus Prodeo.

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